Playing football game on Xbox

First Look: Gaming subscriptions

Video games can be expensive. A new top-of-the-line “triple A” game can cost close to $200. On top of that, you’ve got DLC (downloadable content) and in-game purchases. It all adds up to an expensive pastime.


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In a move that may alleviate money woes for gamers, some companies offer Netflix-style subscription services. For a recurring fee, gamers get access to a large online catalogue of titles to download and play for as long as they remain part of the service.

Games are mostly back catalogue titles that have been out for at least a year and rarely include triple-A options. Fortunately, you can check the game selection before handing over your credit card details and paying $11 per month.

EA Access vs. Xbox Game Pass

The services either come through onsellers, such as Microsoft, or directly from the game developers. For example, developer EA has EA Access, which, at $30 per year, offers previous iterations of its sports titles and discounts for its new games.

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass offers older and remastered Xbox 360 titles. However, Microsoft also gives subscribers Xbox-exclusive games through Game Pass the day they are released. Microsoft has said it plans to bring as many titles as it can into Xbox Game Pass on the same date as the game’s global release.

Value for money?

Are these services worth it or are they just another way to wring money from gamers? It depends.

I calculate value for money by looking at the cost of the games against how many you play. So if you play four a year, then the price is justified. If you only play one or two, it’s not a good deal.

I’ve been using these services and EA Access has definitely been worth it for me. Sports titles don’t change much so getting last year’s version as part of a bundle works well for me. So I’m happy to let my subscription roll over.

Xbox Game Pass is not as good. The selection feels more like “games you’ve heard might be OK but didn’t want to spend money on”. I’ve only played three in a year or so. Although one of these was Sea of Thieves, a new multiplayer game that would normally cost $110.

Like most of these services, the subscriptions just keep rolling over. And this is the trap. The prices are in that sweet spot of not being too expensive, so it’s easy to forget the outgoings.

Especially as Xbox and PlayStation already have subscription services that give you complimentary games: Xbox Live Gold ($11/month) and PS Plus ($13/month). These services offer three games each month, as well as discounts and online play options.


Overall, I like the game subscription model, but it’s subjective. You may love the idea of playing as many old titles as you like or you may see it as a waste of time. The main thing to remember is don’t just let it keep rolling over if you’re not using it!

Xbox Game Pass

EA Access

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By Hadyn Green
Technology Writer